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Lethbridge Police respond to disciplinary hearing of two officers - put to rest misinformation that Phillips was followed

July 14, 2020

The Lethbridge Police Association provided the following statement regarding the disciplinary proceedings against Sergeant Jason Carrier and Constable Keon Woronuk.

According to LPA Vice President, Mike Darby, these allegations were fully investigated by two different police services in a process that took three years to reach a conclusion. "One of the largest legal firms in Canada (Bennett Jones LLP) was retained to advise the Chief of Police throughout the disciplinary process, and handled the charges under the Police Act," says Darby in a written statement.

His statement goes on to say, "contrary to what some articles and media headlines have reported, although there was an intention by one of the cited officers to conduct targeted enforcement, MLA Phillips was never followed. The 30 page penalty decision circulating in the media was written by a retired Superintendent of the Calgary Police Service who has a plethora of knowledge and experience in police discipline. This same presiding officer has not hesitated in the past to dismiss police officers (terminate employment), where the circumstances were warranted."

According to Darby both cited officers have been cooperative throughout the process and take full responsibility for their actions. "This aberration is not a reflection of the membership as a whole. The members of the Lethbridge Police Association are committed to professionalism and serving the community," he says.

According to official documents the two officers were at a Lethbridge eatery three years ago when they overheard Phillips discuss plans with some stakeholders to potentially close parts of the Castle Park area and designate them as a provincial park. The two officers, who are outdoorsmen opposed those potential restrictions that would come with provincial park designation. The officers took unauthorized photos of Phillips in the eatery, and Woronuk ran the plates of one of the stakeholders. Woronuk later posted a photo to Facebook he took at the diner under a fake name criticizing the then NDP government.

Phillips filed a complaint under the Police Act. Phillips, who is also the MLA for Lethbridge West, said she had been aware of dishonourable and discreditable conduct among LPS officers targeted at her.

As a result of this investigation, Sgt. Carrier, a 23-year veteran with LPS, has been demoted to senior constable for one year, and Woronuk, a 19-year veteran with LPS, has been demoted from senior constable to first-class constable for two years.

According to the Penalty Decision following the disciplinary proceedings, Woronuk admitted to five counts under the Police Service Regulation including discreditable conduct, insubordination, an act of deceit and two counts of corrupt practice.

Carrier admitted to discreditable conduct and neglect of duty.

Alberta Justice Minister, Doug Schweitzer says "I share in the outrage being expressed by many following the news." Schweitzer has asked the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team to look into the matter.

In a separate statement, interim Chief of Police Scott Woods said the actions for which Sgt. Carrier and Cst. Woronuk were disciplined, are not excused.

"The fact that they admitted to the charges of misconduct indicates that they acknowledge this reality," says Woods. "But acknowledging the wrong-doing does not take away the embarrassment and shame that has been brought upon the LPS by their actions, nor does it mitigate the justified anger and profound disappointment of Ms. Phillips and others in our community who have a right to expect so much better from their Police Service."

Woods went on to say, "while these officers have indeed failed in their duties, that failure does not reflect the values and duty of the Police Service to the community."